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State working to raise labor participation rate

Published: Oct. 21, 2021 at 6:09 PM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - According to the U.S. Department of Labor, unemployment claims fell to 290,000 last week. That’s the third weekly drop in a row, and the fewest to apply for benefits since the pandemic worsened in March 2020.

As unemployment numbers decline, state officials in Alabama are focused on bringing the labor participation rate up.

Right now the labor participation rate is 57%.

“It certainly has nothing to do with the availability of jobs because the jobs are available and it also has nothing to do with the wage rate that is available,” said Alabama Commerce Secretary Greg Canfield.

Canfield said the average household income in 2010 was $40,933 and in 2020 it’s $54,393.

Early retirement, parents forced to stay home due to a lack of child care, and not to mention school closings due to COVID-19 are a few reasons Canfield says people are leaving the labor market. According to deputy secretary and director of AIDT, Ed Castile, bringing people back won’t be simple.

“It’s complicated. I mean there is no just quick elevator speech as to how we’re getting it all done. There’s just lots of moving parts,” said Castile.

Castile points to many programs already in place to help recent high school grads, new veterans and people who want to work.

“One of them, we’re creating what we call the Alabama Talent Triad, which is a credential registry,” said Castile. “We can let everyone see what is what credentials are what’s required to get them most jobs today require some type of credential.”

And it’s not just about a job but a better quality of life.

“We’ll help an individual feel good about themselves, we’ll help their children get the dental care they need and the medical care they need, and they don’t have to depend on somebody else,” said Castile.

The state wants to reach 61% labor participation rate by 2025.

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